- The Washington Times - Monday, April 29, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday downplayed the prospect of international blowback from tough new sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas customers, insisting the pressure campaign won’t hurt trade talks with China — a major buyer of Iranian oil — or other U.S. foreign policy goals.

Speaking at a newsmaker event hosted by The Hill newspaper, Mr. Pompeo said Trump administration officials have had had “lots of talks” with China about the matter and said he is “confident that the trade talks will continue and run their natural course.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is traveling to Beijing this week for more trade talks. In an interview with Fox Business Network that aired Monday, Mr. Mnuchin said he hopes “to get to the point where we can either recommend to the president that we have a deal or recommend that we don’t.”

The Trump administration last week announced it would not extend waivers of U.S. sanctions for countries buying Iranian oil after May 2, in a bid to cut off all foreign sales of the Islamic Republic’s key export.

The administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil sector last fall, pressuring other countries to stop importing oil from Tehran. But the State Department granted waivers at the time to eight countries, including Japan, India, China and Turkey.

The White House’s latest move, a fallout from President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose harsh economic sanctions on Tehran, was accompanied by a statement that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has agreed to work with the U.S. to make up any lost oil supplies on the international market and keep energy prices in check.

Despite concern the move could spark chaos in energy markets, Mr. Pompeo said the U.S. is “convinced we can make sure the markets are adequately supplied.”

“Companies that choose to violate the sanctions,” he added, “we will pursue and we will ensure they are held accountable for the violations they engage in.”

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